Five para archers to watch at the 2022 world para championships
Some 223 para archers from 40 nations will compete for 16 gold medals across seven competition categories at the 2022 World Archery Para Championships taking place in Dubai, United Arab Emirates on 22-27 February. And there are plenty of big names among them.
The event, which was initially supposed to take place in 2021 but postponed by 12 months due to the pandemic, is the first global competition for para archers since the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games last year and takes place at the bespoke, world-class Dubai Club for People of Determination, which has hosted para world ranking events for nearly a decade.
It will also mark the first time the thre-archer team event will be replaced by a two-archer doubles format for the single-gender competitions. Across the three eligible divisions, the change has more than doubled the number of entries from 29 (teams) to 64 (doubles).
Scroll down for five archers on our radar in Dubai, and let us know if you agree or disagree with the picks on our social media channels.
You can follow all the action from Dubai on the World Archery website, and the compound, recurve and W1 finals will be streamed live on our YouTube channel. (The visually impaired finals will be made available to view on demand afterwards.)
1. David Drahoninsky
Who are they? W1 man from the Czech Republic.
What’s the story? Known for dying his hair and for dancing in his wheelchair on the podium, Drahoninsky is the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Champion, having beaten Nihat Türkmenoglu in the final last September. This augmented his already impressive Paralympic medal collection of one gold, three silvers and one bronze. He is also a Paralympic Record holder.
What’s the goal? Win the title again. Drahoninsky has won world para gold, silver and bronze medals, but has not topped the podium since 2015, finishing in third last time out, in 2019.
World ranking: 3
Best result: Two-time Paralympic Champion
2. Elisabetta Mijno
Who are they? Recurve woman from Italy.
What’s the story? Could 2022 be the right time for Elisabetta Mijno to finally grab an individual world championship gold? Despite a disappointing fifth place in 2019, Mijno, who works as a doctor, has won six medals at the world paras, but only one as an individual – in 2015.
With the world number one and Paralympic Games champion Zahra Nemati, plus 2019 world champion Wu Chunyan, not competing in Dubai, the former world number one is in a prime position to medal in Dubai.
What’s the goal? Individual gold.
- Age: 36
- World ranking: 2
- Best result: Runner-up at the London 2012 Paralympic Games
- Instagram: @emijno
3. Harvinder Singh
Who are they? Recurve man from India.
What’s the story? Harvinder won the first-ever medal for India in the archery competitions at either the Olympic or Paralympic Games when he beat Korea’s Kim Min Su in a shoot-off to secure third place at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
India Prime Minister Narendra Modi called him “outstanding” and the para archer, who set up an archery range on his family farm, was later recognised with the prestigious ‘Arjuna Award’, an honour recognising outstanding achievements in sports in India.
What’s the goal? Another podium spot.
- Age: 30
- World ranking: 13
- Best result: Bronze at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games
- Instagram: @harvindersingh07
4. Ruben Vanhollebeke
Who are they? Visually impaired archer from Belgium.
What’s the story? One of 14 athletes competing in the combined visually impaired in Dubai, Vanhollebeke’s last World Archery Para Championship appearance in 2019 started with a world record and ended with a gold. He will be the one to beat despite being the world number two, with world number one, Great Britain’s Steve Prowse, not in Dubai.
What’s the goal? To defend his title.
- Age: 44
- World ranking: 2
- Best result: Reigning World Archery Para Champion
5. Marina Zuniga
Who are they? Compound woman from Chile.
What’s the story? The ultra-competitive compound women’s competition will see a lot of attention on the British pair of world number four Phoebe Paterson Pine – who is also the reigning Paralympic Champion – and world number one Jessica Stretton, as well as reigning world champion Nur Syahidah Alim, but Chile’s Marina Zuniga will be an interesting watch.
Can the 19-year-old, who became Chile’s first-ever Paralympic archer in Tokyo, and who then went on to win silver, continue her unbelievable rise to the very top?
What’s the goal? To cement her place in the world top three.
- Age: 19
- World ranking: 9
- Best result: Runner-up at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games
- Instagram: @mariana_archery
Besides the numerous other continental, world and Paralympic medallists and top-ranked archers not mentioned here it is also worth shining a light on the three local archers – Habib Alblooshi, Mohammed Abdulla Ali Sayo Alshehhi and Gholam Rahiminia – plus Africa’s sole representative in Dubai, Abderrahmane Belkous, from Algeria.
All four will be competing in the compound men’s event.